Front Office








chef-daveChef David joins the Growlers for his second season as the team’s executive Chef, but he is not new to baseball.  Chef David also serves as the consulting chef for the Battle Creek Bombers and is now taking on a game day role for the Growlers.  With his 41 years of experience in the food service industry, Chef David has had many different opportunities in sports.  He has served as a cook for the German Soccer team, was the executive chef for the Walter Payton Golf Classic for five years, and has cooked for many pro hockey teams and even Frank Sinatra.  Chef D is currently the company chef for Sysco Grand Rapids, and has been for eight years now.  He is very excited to have baseball back in Kalamazoo and cannot wait to start grilling.



      new west hills logo2012West Hills Athletic Club’s mission is to help our members and guests achieve their health, fitness, and tennis goals in a welcoming atmosphere by providing the best personnel, programs, equipment, and facilities.

Take our YP360 powered virtual tour, then spend a few moments to browse our website and become familiar with all we have to offer . Have more questions? Feel free via e-mail at or by phone at (269) 387-0410.

Ready to learn more about becoming a member at West Hills Athletic Club? We’ll take you on a personal tour of our facilities and show you why other gyms in Kalamazoo model their businesses after us.




Laura Thomas, MS, ATC, serves as head athletic trainer for the Kalamazoo Growlers baseball team. Prior to joining Bronson Sports Medicine, Laura served as an assistant athletic trainer at Davenport University, Grand Rapids, Mich., and at Kalamazoo College as a Graduate Assistant Athletic Trainer. She earned a master’s degree in athletic training from Western Michigan University, Kalamazoo, Mich., and a bachelor’s degree in athletic training from Northern Michigan University, Marquette, Mich. Laura also worked with the USTA 16 & 18 Boys National Championships and the U.S. Olympic Education Center. Her other areas of responsibilities include mentoring the WMU graduate assistant athletic trainers for Hackett Catholic Prep, Kalamazoo Christian, and Schoolcraft High Schools; and supporting performance training programs and community education efforts. Laura can be contacted at

For additional information about Bronson Sports Medicine athletic training services, visit


dr. sytsmaDr. Sytsma is board certified in orthopaedic surgery and has a subspecialty certification in orthopaedic sports medicine. His special interests include sports injuries, arthroscopy, and complex knee and shoulder surgery. Dr. Sytsma’s training includes:

Fellowship in orthopaedic sports medicine at the American Sports Medicine Institute, Birmingham, Ala. Mentored by James R. Andrews, William G. Clancy, E. Lyle Cain and Jeffrey R. Dugas

Residency in orthopaedic surgery at Medical College of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, Wis. Medical degree from Medical College of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, Wis.

Dr. Sytsma is a member of:


  • American Academy of Orthopaedic SurgeonsThe American Orthopaedic Society for Sports MedicineBronson_SportsMedicine_blk
  • Arthroscopy Association of North America
  • Alpha Omega Alpha Medical Honor Society
  • Christian Medical & Dental Associations

His affiliations include:

  • Associate Clinical Professor for orthopaedic residents at Western Michigan University Homer Stryker M.D. School of Medicine in Kalamazoo, Mich.
  • Dr. Sytsma is also a team physician for Western Michigan University Athletics, Kalamazoo Central High School and Kalamazoo Christian High School 


Sam Gilbertson, J.D.  –  Willis Sports Agent

Team Advisor

Sam Gilbertson is a sports agent registered with Major League Baseball and assists the Kalamazoo Growlers by advising its players who are eligible for the Major League Baseball Draft.  A former college basketball player and coach, Gilbertson is a licensed attorney in Michigan and Indiana.  He is a member of the Sports Lawyers Association and coaches high school basketball.  He earned his Juris Doctor from Regent University School of Law, where he graduated as a member of the Honors division, competed in national trial competitions, and received Regent Law’s awards for Best Trial Advocate and the highest grade in Negotiations.  In addition to representing professional baseball players, Gilbertson also represents coaches and serves as the team advisor for the Battle Creek Bombers and Bismarck Larks.  He resides in Portage, Michigan with his wife, Anna, and their son.

Willis Sports Agents was founded to offer dedicated and ethical representation to athletes striving to play at the professional level.  It assists players with contract negotiations, endorsements, wealth and career management, public relations, and legal services.  The agency is backed by one of the fastest-growing law firms in West Michigan, Willis Law, which has been included in the Best Law Firms list published by U.S. News & World Report and has numerous Super Lawyers® in its lineup of attorneys.  In addition, Willis Law’s attorneys have been included in Best Lawyers in America® and is recognized as a National Best and Brightest Company to Work For.  Willis Law has been retained by the Growlers to serve as legal counsel.

For additional information about Willis Sports Agents, please visit or email Sam Gilbertson at